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Thursday, November 5, 2009

GAME NAH!


Norman Dreo: Game Na!
Artis Corpus Gallery, 7 November till 30 November 2009


I had the rare chance of meeting Norman Dreo in the early 1990s when he was still student at the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. I marveled at his craftsmanship in bringing to life two dimensional photographs which I took in my studio. We planned for an exhibition called Hidden Faces and I ended up keeping some four works out of the nine that he produced then. As he graduated and as he pursued his career, I was totally unaware of how he progressed from that time till late last year when I asked him to do an exhibition for my newly established gallery Artis Corpus. He obliged yet told me that I had to wait a year before he can finally set up his show in my gallery. I waited patiently as I mounted twelve shows in the house gallery and in Ayala Museum ArtistSpace and in two fairs, ManilArt09 and ArtManila, from November 2008 till October 2009. The year passed and now it is October 2009.

This sort of artistic history happening in my absence is enough for me to get stunned by the amount of creativity and talent that is found in a Norman Dreo. Initially, he topped the talent test upon entering the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. Since then he has been represented in several group shows including those mounted in Botong’s Up in Makati, Pinto Gallery in Antipolo, Kaida, Liongoren, and Boston Galleries in Quezon City, 1/of in Taguig City, and other Philippine venues. He has also participated in several group exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and other Asian countries, as well as in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, and the USA, among others. Norman is well awarded by the Art Association of the Philippines, Metrobank, Shell, Philip Morris, and the Ateneo Art Awards. He has to this date mounted several solo exhibitions, at Liongoren Gallery (1999-2000), Red Mill Gallery in Vermont USA (2002), Red Dot Gallery (2002), Utterly Art Gallery in Singapore (2008), and 1/of Gallery (2009).

Game Na! is Norman Dreo’s sixth solo exhibition, as he claims, though I count seventh. Who would argue? He had been doing absolutely detailed pieces such as his electronic circuit boards which, upon close examination, reveal a mass of humanity doing its regular business, whether at work or at leisure. Then came his series of workers, with their backs facing the audience, aptly called Lakbay (Travel), which Dreo mounted in Singapore’s Utterly art Gallery. Then came his multitude series, with canvasses overcrowding with people’s heads.

In this exhibition, Norman Dreo comes home to his real home, the home of children at play. Internet gaming has been the passion of every child, the addiction of every student, the challenge of every youth. If you are not into internet gaming, then you must be a perennial nobody. Dota and Ion are absolutely bywords of children and psychologically retarded adults. If you do not play these, then you are out! Books turn into gray matter inside their petrified bags as the children eagerly peek into the other world residing behind the screen of the computer monitor. Life begins once the flashy heroes and heroines appear at the gamer’s disposal.

Game Na!

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